The City Magazine April 2023

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Managing Editor

Erin Coulehan |


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Chaz Wilson |

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Mari Van Pelt |

Account Executives

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Amber Lanahan |


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April 2023
· lifestyle
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From the

We all dream of the spaces we’ll live in: we decorate in our heads, we spend Sundays driving through neighborhoods, making sure they fit our needs, then we make the big decision. Are we building or are we buying?

Whatever your decision, you’ll need to find the real estate professional/builder who takes the time to listen to your wants, envisioning your dream, and matching the homes or the lots in our El Paso market and making your dreams come true.

Their job is to capture the essence of the perfect home and lifestyle of their client and marry it with the perfect residence that awaits a new family.

Expect to get intimate with your real estate professional/builder because the process starts with sharing thoughts and dreams. Do you want children, dogs, certain neighborhoods, and then the big one, finances?

What can you afford?

This is the starting point when interviewing the potential homeowner. Or, sometimes, it’s navigating a home sale with two partners who are splitting the sheets, per se, and going different directions. We call these successful real estate professionals and homebuilders, and we’ve brought you the finest in the city. Read their profiles to get to know them a bit better, then pick the phone up and ask for a personal meeting. They interview you and you interview them. You want the perfect business partner as you pick the perfect space you’ll soon call home.

Lifestyle magazines often share the realities of living: the ups and downs of living, and one of our staff members -- Amber-- shares a real-life story of cancer, the diagnosis, the fear, the reality, and survival. Lesley Villareal shares her story of cancer. Ask her about one of her biggest regrets? She says she wishes she’d been more prepared. Who do I turn to? What are my resources? What do I expect? Read her story, Leslie shares honestly hoping that there are women who read her story will be one step closer with knowledge she hopes they never need regarding the ugly “C” word.

Who’s the handsome man on the cover? Horocio Gutierrez Jr., who’s captured the hearts of many as he’s kicked a soccer ball across the country, became one of MTV’s reality show hotties as he was a hit on “The Challenge.” This shy guy spends most of his time alone, that is until he’s the most talked about man on the cover of the April Magazine. Ok, his fan club reaches beyond the El Paso region with more than 100,000 social media followers.

Enjoy this month as you get to know El Paso just a bit better, one homebuilder, one real estate professional and one handsome cover guy at a time.


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From the

Ican’t help but think of poetry every April, beginning with T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland,” which opens:

“April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers.”

A bleak reminder of modern struggle from a 20th century poet.

April is also the birth (and death) month of William Shakespeare, who warned that “rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,” which couldn’t be more true of El Paso during this time of year.

Foreboding aside, the Bard also has this to say about springtime:

“It was a lover and his lass, With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino, That o’er the green corn-field did pass, In the springtime, the only pretty ring time, When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding; Sweet lovers love the spring.”

In keeping with the springtime theme of birth, growth, and renewal, I welcome you to our human interest issue.

Sometimes you have to hunt for stories, other times they land in your inbox.

This month, our cover star, Horacio Gutierrez Jr., is featured thanks to the submission of

a reader who wrote-in to recommend we showcase the soccer supernova turned reality tv star. To her, I say, thank you, thank you, thank you!

A lifetime ago, I covered music, tv, and film that required me to spend a lot of time with public figures just before Instagram exploded.

But this did not prepare me for covering Horacio.

When I mentioned writing a story about him to younger members of our staff or mentees, each time I was met with a sigh and whisper of his name followed by, “I LOVE him.”

I can’t thank Horacio enough for not only driving from San Diego to El Paso for a weekend photoshoot and interview, but also for being so willing to quite literally go wherever the wind blew us.

Another poet once wrote that “April showers bring May flowers” and we’re excited to shower you with El Paso’s leading home and construction professionals and real estate agents to ensure your home can weather whatever comes your way.

This month, we also reflect on the very human impact that COVID-19 has had over the course of the last three years, especially on the border. Dr. Alozie once again graces our pages, and I can’t think of a better person to share his thoughts, experiences, and knowledge on this crazy time in global history. I say this often but somehow never enough: we’re SO lucky to have doctors like Dr. Alozie in El Paso.

Stories of survival from other inspiring El Pasoans in this issue, I’m certain, will plant seeds of creativity in readers, if not least of all, out of human interest.

You’ll meet filmmaker Alfonso Loya, whose production company won the Grand Jury award for Best Web Series at the New York International Film Festival for his tv series on immigration; Anderson, a patient from El Paso Children’s Hospital who was recently named a Children’s Miracle Network 2023 national champion; and Mia, a volunteer at the El Paso Animal Rescue League who helps adoptable dogs find furever homes, and has also earned more than $1 million in college scholarships.

Here’s to continued forward motion and growth.

May we continue to bloom.

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Erin COULEHAN Managing Editor Gibel AMADOR Aina MARZIA Dr. Ogechika ALOZIE Megan MEHL John HORTA Sergio OLIVAS Mary CHAVEZ Contributors Amber LANAHAN Jamiah DANCIL 21 April 2023 APRIL 2023 VOLUME 109 contents Features Here and Now 24 Cultivating Community through COVID By: DR. OGECHIKA ALOZIE 90 A Survivor’s Journey By: AMBER LANAHAN 84 A Champion and ‘The Challenge’ By: TCM STAFF 100 Q&A: Alfonso Loya Talks Success of Border Series By: ERIN COULEHAN 114 Progress Report: ‘Tote-ally’ Cool By: AINA MARZIA 28 The Lust Frontier By: MEGAN MEHL 90 84 24
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| By: DR. OGECHIKA ALOZIE photos courtesy of: DR. OGECHIKA ALOZIE |

It’s been three years since COVID (SARS CoV2) changed our lives almost instantly and -- in a sense -- irrevocably. While this piece isn’t about me, I will use my journey through COVID as a barometer for how things have gone the last three years.

On Feb 14, 2020, I went on KVIA and talked about COVID for the first time. “My family and I still plan on going to the Olympics in Japan,” I said. Man, was I wrong!

I remember March 5th of 2020 being in Houston giving a talk on HIV and thinking “Well, this can’t be that bad. That was the last time I would get on a plane for almost months.”

One week later, we were hoarding toilet paper and afraid to see our loved ones.

2020 was a crazy chaotic year. Fear. Death. Uncertainty.

From wiping down groceries, to wearing masks, to being afraid to walk past people outside on the streets. All the while the world around us was shutting down and becoming a scarier place. We watched the news stories of the horrors in New York and yet it was quiet in El Paso; as of March 31, 2020 we had a total of 50 COVID cases.

By May, it became very clear to us that COVID was NOT going anywhere and we were going to have to change so many things. From the way we work, to the way we play, to the way we travel, to the way we educate.

Zoom, WebEx and Teams became not only rampant but dominant.

But for those of us in the healthcare space, these tools were not an option. The fear and dread mounted on a daily and weekly basis and more people arrived in the hospitals and unfortunately, many of them died.

As I went to Del Sol Medical Center everyday, my bubbly and stoic nature began to dim.

I realized as someone that had battled weight all his life that I needed to get healthier and began to exercise. And even that was difficult; somedays the will to even get out of bed was not there, and I would break down in uncontrollable tears working out.

What would happen if I died? Who would take care of my kids? 25

But all the while, our COVID numbers stayed low. The summer of 2020 in El Paso beamed with hope. People started going out. Road trips became a thing. It seemed that inconceivably we had dodged the proverbial viral bullet…and then July 2020 came.

To try and allay fears we (HCA) let cameras into our ER to show people the human and real face of COVID in the hospital.

As we would learn with COVID -- again and again -- what goes up, must come down. By the end of August 2020, we were seeing low levels of COVID spread, and life seemed to be returning. Businesses, bars, restaurants, families --all seeing eyes -- not necessarily faces because masks were still the theme of the day. But at least our lives on the Borderland seemed to be returning.

But then came Oct/Nov of 2020 with a crushing COVID wave. Fear returned. Everything went silent as we experienced the most brutal and deadliest wave of COVID we had experienced to date.

Tents in front of hospitals. Inmates acting as mortuary attendants. The El Paso Convention Center transformed into an overflow hospital.

That whole time period feels so surreal when I look back.

Long days. Long nights. Death. Fear. Uncertainty. But at the same time, hope.

Vaccines were coming. But so were elections -- and the politicization of COVID. But as the song says “even in the darkest days, it’ll be all over…in the morning.”

The hope was vaccines. Oddly, the biggest personal irony of COVID for me was the day before I was to get vaccinated, I got COVID!

The headlines were wild. And even though I didn’t know how I got COVID, I felt ashamed and as if I had failed myself and my community.

But the vaccines were here!

Whether it was given to those at the front of the line, or those that jumped the line! The important thing was our community was creating protection, both through the toil and sacrifice of the lives lost, or through the public health miracle of vaccines.

Then, (finally) for most parents, the relief of having kids return to school.

Eventually, books and thesis will be written on how we harmed a generation of school kids by keeping them out of school as long as we did. Our community returned kids to school faster than most in the country and we should be proud of that.

The remarkable thing about 2021 is how surreal it felt.

People were traveling and kids were in school, but there was still a sense of dread

and foreboding in the back. Is it gone, where is it going, when can we return to normal. How many shots will we need?

But by the summer of 2021, it really did feel as if El Paso was waking up.

COVID changed us and the world around us irrevocably. Businesses that didn’t serve food and alcohol remained on Zoom/WebEx. People were traveling, but with 2-3 masks per person and with complex COVID testing and retesting measures. I flew to London and Curacao in 2021 and the masked landscape while people removed masks to sleep and eat always struck me as comical anxiety laden theater; but that’s where we were.

By the end of the year, Omicron struck!

Hospitals were full again. People were scared again. But ahhh haaa…this was a different COVID. Almost everyone got it, but many people had already been vaccinated or been sick previously, and so the magic of immunity spared a repeat of the horrors of 2020.

We weathered the Omicron storm into Spring of 2022.

By this time, I must say, COVID became a tribe issue. There were those who no longer acted as if COVID existed and those who were in full or partial 2020 mode. In all honesty, there is and was no right or wrong. We are at a point where each individual will act as they feel comfortable.


The world, on average, has moved on. Academics, scholars and clinicians will argue about whether one, two, or 20 shots are the key to being safe. Each vaccination series garners less and less uptake as people grow weary.

But, again, life has been scarred.

People are still wary of in-person meetings, while restaurants, hotels and bars are open and booming. Kids who suffered the most loss of growth in COVID are learning how to engage again, talk again, learn again. In the wake of COVID remains an anxiety and depression explosion the likes of which this generation has never seen.

The last vestiges of COVID rules have melted away: all hospitals in El Paso have finally removed their mask mandates.

Life feels (almost) normal.

At some point, the post mortem of how COVID affected our community will be done. The lives lost. The conflict created and endured. But just as importantly is the sense of community: the sense of shared togetherness.

Organizations across the city that had never worked together sitting down (on Zoom and Teams) to plan and improve the lives of our city. That is what I want to remember these days -- the fellowship our community shared.

COVID was a journey I’ll never forget. From a hospital administrator, to an unemployed physician on an island, to returning to my community to provide patient care. Then along the way, lots of TV.

Three years ago the world and our community came to a halt. It was a scary, intense and never ending roller coaster.

Hopefully we have learned both as a group and individually, something from it that we can take into the future. 27 April 2023
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April 2023 28 Lu
ront ier The
Does Dating Get
As We Get Older?
s t F

here’s nothing worse than being single and hearing the punchline “…and that’s why they’re still single!” It’s not easy to offend me, but this one gets to me every time. In our society, is being unpartnered an indication that something is wrong with you?

It can certainly feel like that at times. It’s unsettling when you look up one day and

realize that you’re the last person standing at the end of a game of musical chairs. Whether you’ve never been married, or you’re finding yourself back on the singles market after a breakup or divorce, dating definitely becomes a little more complex as we age.

Ilike to think that in many ways, I may have dodged a bullet by not having gotten married in my 20s. Not because of anyone else, but because of me. It hasn’t always been fun being single, trust me. But I know I’ve needed this time to discover who I am, what I want in life, and how to work through my own issues. Ultimately, I just wasn’t ready for marriage in my 20s. I had no idea who I was and put all my energy into what I thought I was “supposed” to do. My romantic relationships were codependent and I was always compromising what I wanted in the desperate pursuit of love from people who were ill-equipped to provide it.

As we get older, we naturally become better communicators. We develop our interpersonal skills and learn conflict

So great, we are better daters now. But as you age up into that next bracket on your doctor’s intake forms, there are presumably fewer people your age who aren’t taken!

After living in NYC, coming home has been a culture shock in many ways, not the least of which was the married-to-single ratio. In New York, all of my friends were single into their 30s and 40s, and we all navigated the dating world with support from one another.

The The

resolution through friendships, work, and dating. Whether we mean to or not, we just become older, wiser, and more mature people over time -- some more so than others.

The best thing about dating when you’re older is the fact that you’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t in a relationship. It’s no different than applying for a job; more experience makes you an undeniably better candidate. I hear a lot of people express hesitation about dating divorcé(e)s, but to me, these people have

G ood Bad

That’s obviously not the case here, and it’s been extremely daunting. I’ve had more than one person tell me that they’d love to set me up with someone, but they literally don’t know any single men. Yikes.

Within this smaller dating pool, we make it smaller by being pickier than we might have been in our teens and 20s. This beautifully developed self-awareness also contributes to a better understanding of the type of partner

experience they’ve learned from, which may make them better partners. As a rule, the divorced people I work with are much clearer on what they’re seeking once they’ve been around the block once.

Most importantly, when we are older or previously married, we may no longer feel the intense pressure of biological clocks, financial security, or societal pressures to secure the wedding and white picket fence. It’s easy to see why people rush into marriage or get married for the wrong reasons, and the opportunity to have a second chance and explore a relationship based on fun, love, and attraction is a total game-changer.

we are seeking, and we’re less likely to settle. We know better now! Sometimes, anyway.

We also get comfortable in our independence and stuck in our ways. We may become a bit inflexible. We are very clear on the things we want and need in life and are perhaps more unwilling to compromise. You don’t want anyone to take away your nasty old recliner or your ability to watch football uninterrupted, I get it. Careful though, there’s a thin line between being knowing what you deserve and being a pain in the butt. 29

As we get older, our lifestyles change as well. It’s a lot less likely that you’ll lock eyes from across a crowded bar if you’re not doing the bar hopping thing anymore. (Do you think I can pick someone up at the chiropractor?)

It doesn’t help that the surge in online dating has completely transformed the playing field

for all of us. I really feel for Baby Boomers who are having to navigate unfamiliar technology and the treacherous world of online dating simultaneously. Not only is technology changing things,

but it makes for so much less face time (not to be confused with FaceTime). It’s almost hard to imagine a time before the apps when people met organically and could see if there was chemistry in real time. We now determine compatibility based on a few photos and words, which is pretty ridiculous when you think about it.

Idon’t know about you, but I can’t say that I’m aging like a fine wine... physically, anyway. I think I’m a much higher quality partner than I was in my 20s. One thing I hear almost daily from clients is that they aren’t attracted to other people their own age. This is especially true of people who are divorced and haven’t dated in some time. They may have fallen in love decades prior and they were able to always see the younger version of both themselves and their spouse.

Every single client in their 60s tells me -in a hushed conspiratorial tone -- that they aren’t a “normal” 60-something-year-old.

They are uniquely youthful, fun, adventurous, and in shape. They’re not “old” like their peers. I’m not talking about some clients, this is EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

This is hilarious to me, but also deeply foreboding in case I do in fact remain single forever.

When I send someone in their 60s out on a date with someone their same age, I very often get the feedback that the other person looks like a grandparent. It’s all I can do to resist screaming, “Have you looked in the mirror in the last 30 years?!” I know none of us feel a day over 22, but let’s be realistic, shall we?

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As we get older, we have to understand that everyone else is, too. I don’t have a six pack, so unfortunately I shouldn’t expect to date someone who does.

Maybe part of it is a generational difference, but men in particular seem to think they’re going to get women 20 years younger. Many seem to think they are entitled to younger women. It’s hard to break it to these people, but the 40-year-olds are trying to

date 30-year-olds, who are trying to date 20-year-olds.

If you haven’t yet landed yourself a supermodel, I don’t think your 60s is the time it’s going to happen for you. Perhaps it was once the case that women were fine to settle with a wrinkled old guy for financial stability, but it’s not the 50s. Most of the women I know run circles around their male counterparts financially.

When I go on a date these days, I know that I’m bringing a complex person with a lot to offer, though I’ll always make mistakes and be a work in progress. I’m no longer looking for validation (~98% of the time), or for a warm body. I’m not going to settle for the first person who comes along, but I also know enough to be open minded and know that a great match for me may not be what I have in mind.

Call me naïve, but I truly do believe that what is meant to happen, will happen.

One thing we all know after enough heartbreak is that you can never force it. No matter what you do, you can’t make someone fall in love with you. You also can’t change a person, and it’s a good idea not to go into a relationship with the expectation

that you will. We’ve learned these hard lessons time and time again, and they’ve made us stronger people.

Dating can be hard at any age, and it’s easy to become jaded or think you’ll never find your person. But if you’ve been in love before, you know that it’s 100% worth the trouble and the risk of getting hurt.

The best takeaway I can share is that we are not perfect, nor is anyone else. If we can learn to accept ourselves for who we are, flaws and all, and be just as accepting of others, there is room to meet in the middle from a place of trust. When you meet the right person, they’ll be a beautiful addition to your already full life and you will be the same for them, without needing one another to survive.

There’s beauty in the wisdom and simplicity of that. 31 April 2023
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32 April 2023 HELP YOURSELF OR A LOVED ONE. Take the risk test at Share the risk test with someone you know Contact the El Paso Center for Diabetes at 915-532-6280 to schedule a free A1C test Take your risk test results to your doctor TAKE THE DIABETES RISK TEST! TAKE THE DIABETES RISK TEST! OVER 25,000 EL PASOANS HAVE UNDIAGNOSED TYPE 2 DIABETES AND MANY MORE ARE AT RISK FOR DIABETES ENTER YOUR BIRTHDAY RISK TEST The risk of type diabetes increases with age. Men are often more likely to be at risk for undiagnosed diabetes. A family history of diabetes puts you at risk for type diabetes. Yes No HAVE YOU EVER BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE Having high blood pressure can put you at risk for type diabetes. Yes No WHAT RACE OR ETHNICITY DESCRIBES YOU? Certain racial and ethnic groups are more at risk for type 2 diabetes. Hispanic or Latino Black or African American White or Caucasian Asian American American Indian Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander Other/Don’t want to say Being inactive can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes Yes No ARE YOU PHYSICALLY ACTIVE? (sweat while exercising at least 150 minutes a week) WHAT IS YOUR WEIGHT CATEGORY? Height Weight 5’ 9” 206 lbs It’s a fact. Over twenty-five thousand people across El Paso County have diabetes, but don’t even know it. So, take the risk test below to know where you stand, and we’ll connect you to the resources you need. ARE YOU A MAN OR A WOMAN? Man Woman Month Day Year DO YOU HAVE A PARENT OR SIBLING WITH DIABETES? EPCD 22-68 Signs and Symptoms Risk Test For more information on how to manage diabetes, visit: According to your answers, you are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. However, only your doctor can tell for sure if you have type diabetes. It is very important that you see a medical provider soon. Print this report and share it with your doctor. SCORE 6 SELF-REPORTED DIABETES SYMPTOMS: PERSONAL INFORMATION: Physician resources Manage diabetes Diabetes self-management classes Support groups Cooking classes HELPFUL TOOLS: - Increased thirst - Increased urination - Numbness or tingling in feet, hands or legs - Increased hunger - Feeling weak or tired QUESTIONS FOR MY DOCTOR: MY NEXT APPOINTMENT: Sex FEMALE +0pt Weight Category Overweight +1pt Age 51 +2pt Physically active YES +0pt High blood pressure YES +1pt Family history of diabetes YES +1pt The information provided should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. When seeking personal medical advice, you should consult with licensed physician. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider regarding medical condition. Men are often more likely to be at risk for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age. type diabetes. A family history of diabetes put you at risk for type diabetes. High blood pressure can put you at risk type diabetes. Call the El Paso Center for Diabetes at (915) 532-6280 to schedule a FREE A1C Test! 33 EL PASO AUSTIN HOUSTON KILLEEN (915) 849-0111 (512) 265-8629 (832) 220-5566 (512) 265-8629 Home There is no place like
34 April 2023

Rescue & Rewards

Student Volunteer Earns More Than $1 Million in College Scholarships

Alocal student’s heart of gold and academic acumen have earned $1 million in college scholarships -- and then some. Mia Badillo is a 17-year old student who has attended the Loretto Academy for 13 years and is a volunteer at the Animal Rescue League. Badillo first became involved with animal rescuing after her family rescued their first dog.

Badillo says prior to that adoption, she was afraid of dogs after a harrowing experience.

“I had actually grown up terrified of dogs. I had an incident where a dog chased me at a park. So growing up, I was terrified of dogs. I got my first dog when I was in fourth grade

and I adopted her from Animal Rescue when she was 10 weeks old,” she says. “That’s when I really started to get into volunteering with animals and I got over my fear.”

Badillo started an animal rescue club at school in seventh grade, recruiting one of 35 April 2023

her teachers to sponsor the club and help students fundraise for local animal rescues.

“My friends and I would get together to make different arts and crafts, then sell them to our peers,” says Badillo. “We would accept money and then donate all of it to the Animal Rescue League.”

The City Magazine sat down with Badillo to talk about animal rescue and the rewards that come from diligence.

The City Magazine

How did you become involved with the Animal Rescue League?

Mia Badillo

I started volunteering with the Animal Rescue League in 2019, and started doing Rescue Runners, which is where you take some shelter dogs out and you run them or walk them on a trail near the shelter. I started

doing that with my mom a little while before COVID started. But after that, we became what the Animal Rescue League calls adoption counselors -- it’s really cool.

We go to the Animal Rescue League, then we take a van with all the crates inside, and transport usually five to six dogs from the shelter to PetSmart near Sunland Park Mall. We stay there from 11am to 2pm.

We try to get those dogs adopted and we give people more information. If they don’t like the dogs that we take to PetSmart, we direct them back to the shelter. We’re there to give advice and raise awareness for shelter animals.

I love that’s what we do now.


How many dogs do you think you’ve helped get adopted?

36 April 2023
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Rescue & Rewards


My mom has actually been keeping track for the past couple of years and I think we’re at about 70 dogs.


Ttell me about college and all this scholarship money you’ve earned.


I’m a senior, and there’s a lot of things to be done for college. At the beginning of the school year is when college applications started opening. I applied to any college that I could. I was getting emails about certain fee waivers. So, I was just applying: I had my essays done, recommendation letters done, all of that kind of stuff.

I would say in January is when I really started to get responses; I started to get letters back saying that I have been accepted. I started to get more scholarships, and all that kind of stuff. But there are a few more colleges that I have applied to.

It’s been kind of surreal. Life’s moving quickly, but I’m excited for what the future holds.


What’s your dream school? Do you have one?


I don’t have a dream school. I talk to my friends about this all the time. I think growing up, a lot of my friends did have dream schools and they always knew kind of where they wanted to go. And that’s never been me.

I’m looking at all of my options, and seeing what’s going to work out best for me.

I know that I do want to stay close to home, wherever I go. I like the Southwest, especially because wherever I go after I graduate I always want to end up back in El Paso because I’m from El Paso born and raised in El Paso. So are my parents.

The community has done a lot for me and I would love to give back with my knowledge and the degree that I choose to follow.

I want to become a registered dietician. I really see that need here in El Paso, especially living on the border. I see how many underprivileged communities there are, especially with the recent migrant crisis, 37
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there has been a lot of issues that have come to light.

I would just love to help people who don’t have the resources, different health resources, or access to health care. I think that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed in life.

I think that that success also includes leading a healthy life. So, I would really like to come back here and work here.

What was it like as you started getting the scholarship letters back and adding up the award amounts?


They actually kind of came all at once. I started to get a bunch of emails in January. At first, I thought I would receive a few scholarships but nothing near as much money as I did receive.

I thought, maybe a few thousand dollars. But I’ve been getting full rides to a few schools, which I think is absolutely amazing.

I’m very grateful and I’m proud of myself, as well. I know that I put in the hard work

so it’s nice to finally see it pay off. After all of these years, you kind of lose sight of the goal. And it’s easy to say, “Why am I doing all this work?” Once you actually get that recognition, then you see what it’s all for. That’s been really special.


I want you to brag a little bit. What do you think it is about you that earned you these amazing awards?


Probably my determination. I never strive to be perfect because I don’t think that’s realistic.

I strive every day to do better than I did the day before. Whether it’s something having to do with school, my personal life, friendships, relationships, anything like that, I know that every day provides me with another opportunity to do better. I think about that every day, and I use it to my advantage.

need to have people telling me what to do. I know what I need to do, and I’m going to get it done. I think that being so organized has definitely helped me a lot: being on top of things, staying structured, following a routine has always done wonders for me.


Where do you think your determination comes from?


I owe a lot to my parents. I’m an only child, so I’ve kind of always been around them my whole life. I think of them more as my best friends, they’re such inspirations to me. I see how hard they work every single day and how much they’ve provided for me, and I’m extremely fortunate and grateful for that.

All I want to do in life is to reach that kind of success that they’ve reached, and I know that they’ll help me do that. They’ve always been extremely supportive, no matter what


I’m doing, and they’re always there for me. So they’re definitely my biggest inspirations and they’ve always kept me on the right path.


What have you learned about people from working with animals?


I think by volunteering at the Animal Rescue League, and meeting people. Whether it’s at the shelter or at PetSmart when we’re doing adoptions, you really see a different side of people. It’s so eye-opening to see how much animals truly mean in someone’s life.

We’ve had certain times where people have adopted dogs from PetSmart, and they’re just in tears once they adopt their dogs. They’re so happy, and a lot of the time it has to do with the fact that maybe they recently lost a dog or something like that, so they’re still in that recovering phase. Once they actually get to adopt the new dog, it gets really emotional for them.

Something that really hits me is when people who are adopting new dogs come up to my parents and me to thank us for volunteering. They’ll say things like, “Oh, you’re such great people” or “It’s great that you’re doing this, we need more people like you.” For me, it’s never been about getting recognition or anything, but when people say that I’m kind of a thing, I’m caught off guard.

I’m like, “Why are you thanking me?” So it’s really cool to see our work appreciated, but at the same time that’s not the goal.

When we’re volunteering with other people, and we’re meeting new people, it’s really cool to see how animals kind of bring everyone together. I don’t know many people who don’t like dogs or who don’t like cats.

I feel like everyone can share the understanding that animals make life better. April 2023
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Home Building Professionals Profiles

This month, we’re excited to showcase El Paso’s esteemed professionals in the home building and construction industry. From hardware fixtures and pools, to heating and cooling systems, we can say with confidence that these businesses are built on a foundation of excellence.

42 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS THE ART OF FRAMING ART MASTERS of El Paso Art Masters of El Paso (915) 833-3838 6501 N. Mesa, Ste. C El Paso, TX 79912 A New Beginning Estate Sales and Appraisals 915-740-1027

Why this partnership?

People trust in us to frame meaningful artwork or preserve their new-found treasures and family heirlooms. The first question is, “What is this worth?” It felt natural to combine our talents to provide an all-encompassing service for our community.

What value do you bring to this partnership?

Douglas has trained with international, master framers on the latest techniques and innovative picture framing and preservation processes in today’s modern art world. He provides 40+ years of expertise and solutions to the most complex art and framing projects in our industry.

As a former Chief Operating Officer and marketing & development professional in the non-profit sector, Tina-Marie’s design eye and long-standing relationships

in the community has allowed us to grow our clientele, interior design consultations, art leasing programs, and promote new, local artists in El Paso.

As an antique and art collector for 20+ years, Eddie is a certified appraisal specialist, possesses a strong understanding of the art market, and has a proven history of achievements in identifying the authenticity and value of artwork and sculptures of different time periods.

What can our readers expect from this partnership?

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook. We will be scheduling public walk-in hours for on-site appraisals. We are also expanding our reach to support more local artists by holding art exhibitions throughout the year. The talent in our community is a hidden treasure in of itself.

Eduardo Ugalde, certified appraiser Douglas Anthony, Founder/Partner Tina-Marie Hew Len-Castro, CEO/Partner

What makes you stand out as a estate sale company?

As a certified appraiser, we have the highest standard of ethics and get you the most revenue for your estate. We treat our clients with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

What have been your highlights in the industry?

I have assisted special collections departments worldwide, as well as museums and auction houses, with appraisals and artifacts for their specified needs. We have done estate sales for the “Average Joe” to local celebrities like Jay J. Armes, Boyd Elder, Richard Schwartz, Joe Gomez, etc.

How are you and Art Masters working together?

We assist Art Masters with appraisals, and clients can either bring their items to their store, or I can go to them. From antiques to art, we will soon have in-store appraisal events that will be open to the public.

appraiser A
and Appraisals (915) 740-1027 44 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS a_new_beginning_estate_sales
New Beginning Estate Sales
A New Beginning Estate Sales and Appraisals


What makes you stand out as a business?

Framing is an art, and we are experts in preservation framing, conservation materials (i.e., acid-free archival matting) and art preservation techniques. Our specialties include custom frames and mirrors; on-site design consultations; art restorations and appraisals; customized art sales and leasing; and art transportation & installation. We are very fortunate to have an established clientele that includes our community’s hospitals, universities, local charities, school districts, banks, interior designers, architects, local artists, hospitality, construction developers, and artists and galleries throughout Texas and New Mexico.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

We are the “go-to” company for simple or intricate framing projects. We use cutting-edge materials and stay current with industry trends. We’re excited to announce our new partnership with A New Beginning Estate Sales and Appraisals. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for upcoming, on-site appraisal events and art exhibitions.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

Our city is rich in beauty and culture, the weather is unbeatable, and the people are welcoming. There is no place like home!

How do you help to improve spaces for your clients?

Listening is the key. Asking the right questions encourages people to instinctively move away from their comfort zone to create a more unique and personalized space.

Art Masters of El Paso

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 45 Photographed by:
Douglas Anthony, Founder/Partner Tina-Marie Hew Len-Castro, CEO/Partner
(915) 833-3838 6501 N. Mesa, Ste. C El Paso, TX 79912 artmastersofelpaso
46 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photograph provided by Winton & Associates Winton & Associates 6300 Escondido Dr El Paso Texas 79912 915-584-8629 WintonFlair_customhomes Winton & Associates

Winton & Associates

What makes you stand out as a company?

We strive to bring quality, design innovation, and energy efficiency to all of our homes. We are an 8x nationally recognized energy star builder, setting the tone in El Paso & Southern New Mexico.

Why should readers turn to you for their real estate needs?

We are not in the home building business, we are in the people business. Our clients come first! From our affordable Accent Series to our Flair and Winton Custom Series, We have the homes to serve our community at any season of life.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

El Paso and the surrounding area truly is a melting pot of amazing people. The incredible community and beautiful landscape gives us the daily motivation to build the best homes in the city!

How do you help to make a house a home for your clients?

We take care of the hard stuff. Our incredible Winton team provides our clients with drafting and interior design professionals to help bring their visions to life, a personalized communication app during the construction process, and paid closing costs through our preferred lender to help save money for the future. When our clients turn the key and open the door to their Winton Build they will be HOME!

Progressive Pool Systems 10015 Carnegie Ave. (915) 256-6070 48 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS 915poolguy

Progressive Pool Systems

What makes you stand out as a business?

We are a third generation family business. By using us for your pool needs, you are supporting our kids baseball, hockey and dance passions while keeping your money in El Paso.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

Our reputation is important to us. You don’t keep your company going for over 50 years by not proving that people can trust you. We use American made products and we do not take the cheap way out.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

Why would we not choose El Paso? The people, the food, the weather. We can’t imagine raising our families anywhere else. El Paso always has been and always will be home.

How do you help to improve spaces for your clients?

Everyone has the smart phone, smart car, smart home, why not have a smart pool & backyard? We specialize in installing the Hayward Omni logic which allows you to control your pool and outdoor features from your phone! We can also help with more energy efficient options to get the most out of your pool.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
50 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Bomanite Artistic Concrete and Pools 1860 W Paisano Dr. El Paso, TX 79922 (915) 533-6497 Over 35 years of experience

What makes you stand out as a business?

My passion is what sets me apart—I truly love what I do and as a result, my clients love what I do! I invest a vast amount of preparation into every project with the goal of staying ahead of the curve. I stay current within my craft to deliver the latest, cutting edge techniques. I’ve completed projects for the majority of GECU’s in El Paso, numerous homes and doctors’ offices in our area, to projects in Arizona and New Mexico.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs? Anyone looking for top notch work and a diversity of undertakings can turn to me for their design needs. I have both residential and commercial expertise and can take on projects big and small. As I like to say, I can make something ordinary into something extraordinary!

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

I love the people, safety and comfort of our city and the climate’s unbeatable. I’m often asked why I haven’t moved to a bigger city where my work would surely take off, but I simple love it here. My family is also in El Paso and that happily grounds me here!

How do you help to improve spaces for your clients?

I consult my clients by gaining inspiration within their spaces to draw colors and styles that I believe will achieve their vision. It’s a collaborative effort with every client and they are always thrilled with the outcome.

5024 Doniphan, Ste. 8 El Paso, TX 79932 915-861-8409


52 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photography provided by Myriam’s
Myriam Montes, Myriam’s Faux Finish Studio Myriam Faux Finish Studio

UA Local 412

510 San Pedro Dr SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108 (505) 265-1513

What makes you stand out as a business?

Our mission prioritizes helping members build a better life for themselves and their families. We commit to our core values and provide benefits for all members for life.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

We have the highest standards in training, safety and health, have fair wages and benefits, and build industry relationships.

Why do you choose to serve El Paso?

We love El Paso, Texas for its unique blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. From the delicious food and vibrant arts scene to the stunning desert landscapes and friendly community, El Paso has something for everyone.

How do you help to improve spaces for your clients?

Union labor improves workplace conditions and provides members with a voice in the trade.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 53 Photograph provided by UA Local 412
West El Paso | East El Paso | Horizon TX NOW Building in 7 Communities

Lone Star Title

6701 North Mesa St. El Paso, TX 79912 (915) 545-2222

What makes you stand out as a title company?

Lone Star Title has an in-house examination team that handles all of our title examinations in our Westside office. We are able to offer extremely fast turnaround times on these title examinations, which in turn helps keep closing delays to a minimum.

Why should readers turn to you for real estate needs?

For nearly 25 years, Lone Star Title Company of El Paso has been the premier title company in El Paso. We are a locallyowned independent title agent, but we also have tremendous support from our national underwriters which gives us the capability to resolve the toughest title issues that may arise.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

Our Founder and President, John C. Martin, started Lone Star Title Company of El Paso in 1999. His three children -- Marshall, Susan and Luke, all live in El Paso and are involved in the dayto-day operations of the company. The El Paso community has helped build LST into the title agent we are today, and LST is proud to be a locally-owned family business. We hire locally and are passionate about giving back to our community.

How do you help to make a house into a home for your clients?

Our escrow closing staff handles each transaction as if it were their own family buying, selling, or refinancing real property. We pride ourselves on consistent communication with realtors, lenders, surveyors, buyers and sellers, between the minute a contract comes in our doors and when closing day arrives. Nothing makes us happier than seeing our clients’ smiling faces at the closing table. Stop by one of our five locations today to see how we can help you!


What makes you stand out as a business?

We’ve been in business 20 years, we treat your home like it’s our own.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

We’re a company that people can trust for work done right and to code.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

As El Paso transitions to refrigerated air, our local business is needed to serve the community.

How do you help to improve spaces for your clients?

A job well done includes all aspects of heating and cooling to include repairs of ductwork, electrical and aesthetic items to ensure you have a safe and beautiful home.

56 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Rudy Corral, The Home Systems Heating and Cooling 12353 Paseo Nuevo Dr. El Paso, Tx. 79928 (915) 630-2352 I TREAT YOUR HOME LIKE IT’S MY OWN

Real Estate Profiles

The most common axiom of the real estate industry is “Location, location, location!” and you’ve come to the right place. This month, look no further than the following pages for all your real estate needs when it comes to agents, titles, and more.

Michelle Medrano 1626 N. Lee Treviño Ste. A, El Paso TX 79936 915-204-3259

What makes you stand out as a real estate agent?

I have a Masters degree in Social Work from UTEP. With experience and knowledge I dedicate my time and efforts to fulfill people’s dreams in buying their home. I have been in the real estate industry for 10 years and have a passion to be a Realtor.

Why should readers turn to you for their real estate needs?

I am extremely competent and strive by learning everyday about what the new market brings us. The extensive knowledge in real estate allows me to provide white glove delivery service to my current and future clients with a tradition of trust.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

I was born and raised in El Paso. I chose to continue my residence and career because this multicultural community is my family. My roots generate from our border sister country and I feel an obligation to share my knowledge and work ethics to my community.

How do you help to make a house a home for your clients?

A house is just shelter. A home is where I bring my client’s dreams home.

Michelle Medrano, Realtor at Helios Real Estate, Listing agent with Casas De Leon
60 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Eric Smith, Cornerstone Realty 7181 Westwind Dr., Suite B El Paso, Texas 79912 (915) 996-1559

What makes you stand out as a real estate agent:

Since entering the Real Estate industry in 2010, it has been a continuous 13 years of growth. With that experience, I offer all of my clients an edge in valuing, negotiating and ultimately enjoying the process of working together to meet their real estate needs.

Why should readers refer to me for their real estate needs?

In a real estate transaction, you only get one opportunity to set the very best terms. My clients in return receive my undivided commitment to handle the Sale or Purchase of property here in El Paso. The El Paso Real Estate market is healthy, I have vested interest in its prosperity, so there are long term business relationships that have formed and will continue to form with my clientele.

Why do you choose to work and live in El Paso?

This is home, where I was born, raised and now raise my family, have many good friends, and conduct my full-time real estate consulting business, while enjoying the many benefits of living in the El Paso community.

How do you help to make a house into a home for your clients?

I have generated a personal list of quality home services contracting vendors that I routinely refer to help my real estate clients get their property to a level of comfort that they expect from their home. My hidden agenda is that I hope my real estate services exceed my clients expectations, and that they will enjoy residing in and around El Paso for many years to come.

Eric Smith, Cornerstone Realty
415 N. Mesa St. El Paso, Texas (915) 225-8200
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

I am proud to be a native El Pasoan and I choose to keep El Paso my home because of the people. El Pasoans are warm, welcoming, smart, and enterprising. It is exciting to watch our city grow while maintaining the feel of a friendly community.

What makes Stewart Title stand out in the title industry?

Our people! For over a century, we have hired the brightest minds and friendliest people. Our associates have the knowledge, skills and tools needed to make sure that even the most complex transaction is effortless for all involved.

How does Stewart Title help make a house into a home?

A house turns into a home when the owner has peace of mind. Title insurance is only one part of providing that peace of mind. We use the most up-to-date technology to be sure that our customers are protected from wire fraud and safeguard their personal information.

Why should readers turn to Stewart Title for their title insurance needs?

A smooth customer experience makes for a happy homeowner. Our priority is to provide reasonable solutions, quick responses and the help you need to ensure a smooth closing.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Melanie Jones, Division President Stewart Title Company
64 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Mountain Star Mortgage LLC NMLS # 2188361 Jesus G. Leos NMLS#1426910 3351 George Dieter Building B. El Paso, TX 79936 (915) 543-0643

What do you specialize in?

FHA/CONV/USDA/VA • Commercial • Bank Statement Construction • Land Loans • Foreign Natl ITIN

• Bank Statement Program

• Hard Money

Why should readers trust you with their mortgage needs?

Experience is key in this business and with over 10 years’ experience I understand buyers. No matter how difficult your scenario is or how many times you have been turned down we pride ourselves on providing the best home loan experience for our clients.

Why do you choose to serve El Paso?

El Paso is HOME, this is where I decided to start a family, and my business. This city is truly unlike any other in the state, El Pasoans are welcoming, kindhearted and respectful. Not to mention the fantastic sunny weather, affordable housing, and great quality of life.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

Started in the Mortgage world as a Mortgage Broker’s assistant, and a few months later I started processing loans. Got licensed and became a loan officer after a few years I became a Senior Loan officer to now being business owner and Mortgage Broker providing the best experience to my clients.

Jesus G. Leos, Mountain Star Mortgage LLC
MAREG and Pointe Homes in both El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, New Mexico.
SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 67 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Abraham J. Herndon community specialist at Cimarron Canyon (915) 231-0463 11351 James Watt Unit C-500 Pointe Homes available in Cimarron Canyon
68 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS RaÚl Ivan Ruiz 10 years of experience Pre-foreclosure • Foreclosure • Probate • Property management (915) 221-3516
SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 69 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS BUY | SELL | INVEST Beatriz Alderete (915) 383-3835
70 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS 9611 Acer St. Unit 108 (915) 777-0269 iamvictoriaolivia Queen Up Now
SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 71 Photographed by: LUNA ISABEL Joe Moreno, Realtor, MAREG 915 274 2778 11351 James Watt Unit C-500 joemorenorealestateagent Joe Moreno Texas Real Estate Agent

What makes you stand out as a real estate agent?

My ability to communicate with people. I’m incredibly passionate about helping and serving the people in our community with all their real estate needs. Seeing the faces of my clients and the fulfillment in owning a home is a blessing that warms my heart.

Why should readers turn to you for their real estate needs?

As a licensed Real Estate Agent in Texas, I am constantly staying updated with the rules and regulations and local housing market. I am able to share my knowledge with my buyers and sellers. My priority is always having my client’s best interest at heart.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

Serving our community for the last 29 years, I have built partnerships and great friendships that have brought me great joy. Raising my own family has been one of my biggest accomplishments, which makes me work harder for my community..

How do you help make your house a home for your clients?

Finding the area they desire to live in, and asking their needs and wants. Walking into a house and saying “YES! To the address!” makes it a home. Once they receive their keys in their hands and get tears in their eyes assures me that I have found them a home where the heart is.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
Laura Diaz, Exit Realty (915) 449-8399 • 1700 N. Zaragoza Ste. 117 El Paso, Texas 79936

Becca McBroom, CCIM

JMT Properties

300 N Resler, Suite A El Paso, TX 79912 (915) 613-5376

What makes you stand out as a real estate agent?

At JMT Properties, we exclusively work on commercial real estate including industrial, retail and office. I am focused on understanding the El Paso commercial market dynamics including property values, rental rates, local laws and impending development. My experience as a CCIM, a designation which only 10% of real estate professionals have earned, leads me to look at every sale or lease transaction with a 360 degree view.

Why should readers turn to you for their real estate needs?

I am a detailed information provider. I take pride in analyzing and cleanly laying out deal points as groundwork for my client’s decision making. I am also good at finding creative solutions to sticking points on a deal. I treat every transaction as if it were my own investment and make recommendations to my clients with this attitude.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

El Paso is a special tight-knit community because of its people and because of its size. I can be connected in El Paso in a way that is not possible in other cities. This helps me provide an elevated level of service to my clients because I can help them navigate market conditions, contract procedure, vendor recommendations and more.

Photographed by: SERGIO
Cassandra Delgado, Mario Ayala Real Estate Group 11351 James Watt Dr. Unite C500
El Paso, Texas, 79936 Photographed by: JAMIAH DANCIL


& B-Words for Women’s Success with Tricia Kagerer

April 2023
Blueprints 78

ow do you create an environment where -- if you’re intentionally bringing in a diverse workforce -- do they have a safe place to be? Are they going to be welcomed? How are they going to be treated in the field? How do we break down some of those barriers of how to be authentic at work?”

These are a few of the practical and philosophical questions that Tricia Kagerer asks herself each day. Kagerer is the Executive Vice President of Risk Management for Jordan Foster Construction, author of “The B Words: 13 Words Every Woman Must Navigate for Success,” and in the unique position to implement solutions to her questions, creating a blueprint for change.

“One day I’ll be at a construction project meeting with our field safety leader group,” she explains. “Then another day, I’m in the corporate office negotiating our risk management strategy.”

Kagerer hails from El Paso and two generations of fierce women who taught her to ask, “If not me, then who?”

A sold-out crowd of (mostly) women were treated to stories of Kagerer’s grandmother, Peggy, in March for the El Paso Association of Contractors’ inaugural Women in Construction luncheon at the El Paso Community Foundation Room where Kagerer gave the keynote address.

During the event, Kagerer weaved stories of her grandmother -- an Irish immigrant who sold moonshine out of a baby carriage in New York City during Prohibition, rather than join a convent or enter an arranged marriage with a farmer from her village -- with statistics on women in the construction industry.

For example, women makeup only about 10.4 percent of the construction industry’s workforce, up slightly from years past, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“That’s still a pretty small percentage,” explains Kagerer of the traditionally male-dominated industry, “but you’re seeing women in the field; you’re seeing women equipment operators; you’re also seeing opportunities created by advancing

April 2023 ‘‘H

techology. Construction has historically lagged behind in technology and advancing in that way, but you’re seeing women fill those roles as well.”

Kagerer’s career has led to more than 20 years experience in construction risk management and safety, refining her expertise in risk and safety management, leadership, culture, and performance excellence.

“These conversations have led to implementing leadership and education training, and a focus on overall wellness for our team,” she adds.

Kagerer is one of the few women executives who sits at the C-suite table but is determined to open doors, shatter glass ceilings, and build the framework for a culture of care that supports a diverse -- and happy -- workforce.

“The reality is construction companies have so much work, and there are just not enough people who are interested in joining the business,” Kagerer says. “Construction has an image problem. The industry is known for being a tough and dirty industry because of the extreme demands. The workforce is out in the field in the elements performing dangerous work. The industry is changing and technology is advancing, which will help that image. There is so much opportunity, and it’s just been something that women have shied away from.”

Kagerer seized the opportunity to create change at Jordan Foster Construction by creating a culture of care initiative and total worker health initiative and focusing on a total worker health initiative to expand the company’s definition of safety.

“We believe that people need to know how 80

to do their jobs,” says Kagerer. “That requires education and training. Our team need to have good leaders to look up to, who have excellent communication skills -- that that’s part of leadership. We need to -- of course -- be observing and making sure that the projects are run well. We know that projects that focus on safety are also more productive and ultimately more profitable. We must be experts on creating that environment and multiple that culture on every project.”

For women executives like Kagerer who often travel (and travel alone), safety is of the utmost importance and extends beyond the hard hatted and steel toed booted construction sites.

According to a 2021 survey on women’s safety, 88 percent of respondents reported feeling somewhat threatened or unsafe while traveling.

“I’ve always been a woman that travels and there are things that you want to do to make sure that you’re safe,” says Kagerer. “Get a decent hotel, make sure that it’s in a good area. If you’re driving at night by yourself, make sure someone knows where you are. If using rideshare apps, share your location with a friend or family member. Be aware of your surroundings and listen to your intuition. These are things that go into the realm of safety.”

Kagerer is committed to continue to pave the way for women in construction and happy to lead by example.

“I’m very intentional about creating role models for young women,” she says. “I really believe it’s important for people to see someone that looks like them doing something that they might want to do.”


Inside Blueprints & B-Words for Women’s Success
April 2023
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aAll hail, Horacio Gutierrez JrEl Paso’s Herculean heart throb. Gutierrez Jr. is an athlete and adventurer who captured the hearts of millions of people across the country when he appeared Telemundo’s “Exatlon Estados Unidos” then on MTV’s reality show, “The Challenge,” where he was disqualified during the final challenge after his partner, Olivia, was medically removed.

Despite the loss, fans on the internet and IRL still say he’s a champion.

“Him and Olivia were the best,” reads a viewer comment on The Challenge’s website. “He’s definitely gonna be a fierce competitor and future champ if they bring him back.”

Despite his adventures and busy travel schedule, El Paso is home.


“This is where I was born and raised,” he says. “My family lives here and I will always proudly say I am the 915. El Paso moldred me to become the person I am today, and I will eternally have love for my city.

Something to know about Gutierrez Jr., who graduated from El Dorado High School in 2014, is he doesn’t turn away from a challenge -- he sprints towards them, quite literally.

We’re inside the Franklin Mountains on one of the windiest weekends of 2023, where we meet Gutierrez Jr. in-person for the first time. His Instagram -- with more than 100K followers -- showcases the life of a soccer super star who embraces new experiences and has a knack for physical fitness. IRL, he’s a down-to-earth individual with an honest enthusiasm for experiencing the world around him, who is game for a challenge and able to adapt quickly.

Upon his arrival to the shoot, the fitness star opted for an achromatic style with a white linen shirt, distressed gray jeans, and a pair of clean white sneakers. The only accessories were a simple watch, sunglasses, a small gold chain around his neck, and pristine white sneakers that would later be dust ridden from the hike.

Making the walk to the shooting location, Gutierrez Jr. gave us a glimpse into his busy lifestyle, getting prepared for training with his San Diego Sockers teammates, a Grand Canyon Run, and coming home to visit his beloved little sister.

“I practically live inside of my car, “ he laughed, “in the course of these past few days I finished working a job that included filming, drove straight here afterwards to spend time with my family, and tomorrow I’m heading back to begin training with my team in San Diego.”

Once the photo team and he were atop the mountain, the team took full advantage of the afternoon overcast to take snapshots

86 April 2023

with the El Paso cityscape serving as the shoot’s backdrop. Offering his full attention to the photographer’s direction, Gutierrez Jr. engaged in some light banter, contrary to the perceived notion of the many who have assumed the fitness star was a bit abrasive.

“People tend to have the wrong first impression of me before they speak to me, assuming I’m ‘arrogant’ or ‘intimidating’ (I’ve been told). I am the complete opposite! I’m a very quiet, shy guy. I spend most of my time alone, so people may see that and immediately think negatively. Once someone initiates conversation, I am good to go; but I’m not the best at ‘making the first move,’” he shared.

After completing the glamor part of the shoot, it was time to capture photos in the element he feels the closest to himself, fitness.

Consulting with the team what these shots were to entail, Gutierrez Jr. took it upon himself to run -- not walk -- back to his car for an outfit change, a true testament to his earlier statement about his car becoming his second home. Descending the mountain at a steady pace with relative ease left The City Magazine team with a feeling of envy and a budding sense of foreboding for the fitness shots to come.

But the heavens appeared anxiously awaiting the fitness shots.

The sun was lambent on Gutierrez Jr. with a gentle beam that provided a natural spotlight as he worked his way back up the mountain in a jog. The snap-snap-snap of the camera’s shutter could be heard as the lens worked to capture Gutierrez Jr. ‘s every movement.

As the team transitioned the shoot to Tom Lea Park, he shared an unexpected side gig he’d had in high school with hip hop dance crew and quinceañeras maestros, Weros Productions. No less physical than anything else for this

April 2023

fitness aficionado, Gutierrez Jr. shared how he and his crew would attend quinceañeras and help get the party started with rhythmic choreography and intense feats of physical prowess.

“Ever since I was five years old, I’ve wanted to be a professional soccer player,” he said. With this goal -- or challenge -- achieved, Gutierrez Jr. is now thinking about his next adventure.

“I’m slowly moving away from the soccer dream. I’m not sure what my dream job would be. Although, there was a point in my life where I wanted to have an ice cream truck solely to eat all the ice cream myself.”

Ice cream dreams aside, his goal is to continue to challenge himself.

“I know I want to demand my body and mind to do difficult things,” he explains. I want to expand my knowledge and grow through different experiences. I want to travel, I want to push my limits physically and mentally -- and simply enjoy life.”

His positivity is magnetic, and recognized when he’s out in public.

“I was at Peter Piper Pizza with my mom and little sister, then some girls started saying, ‘Horacio, Horacio!’ and asked to take some selfies,” he says of his most recent visit home.

Gutierrez Jr.’s innate charm was not lost to those around him during the shoot, as shown in one instance with a young teen couple, who’d seemingly come to the park to enjoy the romantic cityscape without parental interference.

88 April 2023

Initially, the pair were in their own romantic little world.

However, the subtle glint of a cell phone screen caught the light of the setting sun soon revealed the young lady of the pair “discretely’ panning her camera over the city view and those around her until the camera was stilled on Gutierrez Jr. for several moments before she quickly returned the camera to her boyfriend as the video’s closing shot.

All of this was unbeknownst to Gutierrez Jr., who’d been focused on creating the perfect image for the camera.

With a crane kick that’d put Daniel LaRusso to shame, he concluded the shoot with a single jump kick in the air.

As we return to our vehicles, a quinceanera court arrives to take photos, the girls not too inconspicuously eyeing Gutierrez Jr. and excitedly squeezing each other’s hands, as if pinching themselves to prove the celebrity sighting.

“Maybe I should get Weros Productions back together for one night only” laughs Gutierrez Jr.

The city of El Paso is a place that helped shape his character and his efforts to never let go of the home he came from.

“I don’t know exactly what is next for me or what my dream job is, which is okay to not know,” he says. “But God and life will guide me to it. I am just along for the ride.”

April 2023 89
A Champion and ‘The Challenge’


90 April 2023

Ifound the lump when I was in the shower,” says Lesley Villarreal, a photographer and lover of life, as she looks back on her 13 month journey with stage three breast cancer. “I just felt a little lump on the side of my right breast.”

In a country facing a precarious situation with COVID-19 and a healthcare system requiring referral after referral, it’d take Villarreal 10 months to finally get an ultrasound. During that time, the mass continued to grow at a rapid pace.

“I ended up having to find an entirely new primary care physician, and when I did, that doctor started to get the ball rolling. We got the ultrasound results and he immediately called me into his office. We hadn’t even done a biopsy yet, but he sat me down and told me that this was very serious. He told me that this was cancer, and we wouldn’t believe otherwise until the tests show something different,” says Villarreal.

After 10 stressful months, she was getting a biopsy, and the results proved the worst to be true, breast cancer. Stage three.

Almost a week after receiving her diagnosis, Villarreal was swept into a whirlwind of chemotherapy and appointments.

“I remember, it was my first round of chemo and I was in the front seat of my car absolutely terrified. COVID regulations were still stringent, so I had to go into it alone. So, I’m new, terrified, and getting hooked up for the first time when I see this tiny woman come through the door. She walks in with her beanie on, with a rolling suitcase trailing behind her like she owns the joint, and takes a seat in her chair. They hook her up, and she pops open the suitcase and starts knitting. I remember thinking she was such a badass, and telling myself that I was going to be liike her,” she recalls.

This moment would leave a lasting impression helped form how she’d face her treatment and this disease moving forward.

Commuting between Marfa and El Paso every few weeks for treatment would take its toll. Still, through the efforts of her husband, friends, family, and community, some of these burdens were lessened as individuals helped in any way they could. Family and neighbors would cook for the couple while her husband worked between their regular drives to and from El Paso.

A significant pillar of support was born from Villarrreal’s first social media post discussing her diagnosis. “There was a girl who reached out to me who had also just been diagnosed with stage three, and we were like, literally one week apart on all our treatments and appointments. We walked each other through all of it, just texting and checking in with one another. It was helpful to have a person who understood, and was going through the same stuff as me,” she says.

Treatments would gradually become a place of community for as she chatted with nursing staff with her laptop open, ready to work.

April 2023
A Survivor’s Journey 92

“When I had my double mastectomy, there was a woman, one of the nurses, who’d regularly check up on me. There was a time we talked about my hair because by then, I’d pretty much lost it, and she kept telling me what shampoo I should get to help it grow. Now, she speaks a little bit of English, and my Spanish is horrible. I was trying to figure out what it was she was saying because I could understand some of it, but I got nowhere. The next morning when they released me, she came running up and handed me this giant shampoo bottle. She went and bought it to give to me when I was leaving. I still use the shampoo.” These touching moments with her treatment team provided her with a much-needed respite after the bumpy start to her diagnosis.

One of the hardest parts faced in her battle against this illness would be the chemotherapy, as healthy and diseased cells were seared away with each treatment.

“It’s tough. It completely destroys your body,” says Villarreal. “There’s just so much stuff that people don’t realize happens outside of nausea and severe bone pain. Your body’s sick. You’re brought to the brink of death to kill this cancer, and if you’re

fortunate enough to beat it, there’s going to be an ongoing set of concerns you’ll have to deal with long-term.” For her, some of these long-term struggles she’s forced to face are neuropathy, numbness or weakness in the hands and feet due to nerve damage, and waves of exhaustion.

Two symptoms that are troubling to a photographer whose work requires her to be on her feet for hours on end while holding a camera steady. “It’s little things like vacuuming or cleaning the house that really wears you out. It takes time for the body to snap back and recover,” she says.

When asked about information she wished she’d been told to better prepare for what she was to face with this disease and its treatment, it was the mental strain brought about by the ordeal over the physical difficulties that she wished could’ve been discussed, in addition to resources that’d assist in addressing these burdens.

“The mental stuff is what I feel people don’t talk about, the trauma of it. When you’re in it (treatment), you’re just surviving, but then it starts to get to the end of treatment, and they’re basically saying, ‘Bye!’ It’s crazy 93 El Paso's Leading Pain Management Physicians (915) 313-4443 OUR NEW LOCATIONS NOW OPEN 11450 GATEWAY N, SUITE 2100 125 WEST HAGUE ROAD, SUITE 450

how much trauma there is that you have to process because you’re hit with a, ‘Whoa, what just happened to me’ sensation, so now you have the time to actually sit there and process everything that’s happened to your body while you’re dealing with this constant state of fear of the cancer’s return hanging in the air,” says VIllarreal.

She spoke of struggles facing programs for those seeking mental health assistance.

“The program didn’t get the funding they needed, so the person that had been helping me was now basically doing it on her own,” she explains, highlighting the efforts of team members within these programs to continue providing their patients with the help they need.

During the 10 months spent trying to find a doctor who’d give her insight into her developing mass, she remained silent about her condition. Upon receiving the diagnosis

and being informed of her treatment options, it quickly became clear that the road to recovery would be costly. She shared her troubles with a confidant who was a sister in every way but blood.

This friend suggested creating a GoFundMe to help ease the burden of medical expenses.

“I live in Marfa, which is very small, so I knew if we did a GoFundMe, people would find out. There’s no way to hide anything in Marfa, so I informed my family of the diagnosis before we committed,” she says.

This disclosure would become the first building block for her to speak up publicly about her story.

“When I’d started researching a double mastectomy and what it meant if you opted against reconstructive surgery, I found all of these women on social media who were

brave and open about telling their stories. I truly believe I wouldn’t have known what to do if I hadn’t found them,” she says.

Villarreal shared her reasoning behind taking her story to social media.

“I wanted to be that for someone else while helping spread awareness and the importance of self-checks and mammograms,” she explains.

The experience would naturally have some bumps along the way, with every Tom, Dick, and Harry offering unsolicited medical advice. However, it was those instances where she’d receive a message from someone telling her they’d gotten their first mammogram.

When asked if she’ll continue to post about her ongoing recovery after completing her treatments, Villarreal said she’ll most definitely

April 2023
A Survivor’s Journey

continue sharing her journey. For now, she’ll be taking a break to focus on healing her body and getting back the parts of her life that’d been put on the back burner due to her cancer.

A piece of advice that she offers to anyone currently going through a similar struggle with cancer, or any other disease for that matter, is to find somebody that has been through it, a “cancer buddy,” if you will. Having someone who has felt the experience on a personal level, you’ll have an outlet that understands not just the physical but emotional struggles of coming face to face with their disease.

To conclude the interview, I asked Villarreal what she was looking forward to now that she’s officially cancer free.

Her answer?

The chance to taste food again.

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n El Pasoan is being honored as a 2023 Children’s Miracle Network National Champion and raising awareness to local efforts that support pediatric healthcare. Each year, the Children’s Miracle Network, an exclusive partner with the El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation, selects a local champion. A local champion is selected by being an El Paso Children’s Hospital patient. Every year, a National Champion is selected among the local Champions from across the country. These ambassadors are so important in telling the story of excellent local pediatric health care.

This year, one of our El Paso Champions was selected as a 2023 Children’s Miracle Network National Champion. Anderson, El Paso Children’s Miracle Network Champion, along with his family, neurosurgeon, and friends at the El Paso Children’s Hospital are set to receive Anderson’s national award at a ceremony in Orlando, Florida on April 4th and share his special story.

“They help us advocate for the hospital,” says Alexa Velazquez, Program Director of the Children’s Miracle Network in El Paso, “sharing the testimony of their experience of excellent pediatric healthcare. We are proud of the Champion, who exemplifies our mission. We have an incredible children’s hospital here, at home.”

Anderson was diagnosed with Arnold Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal that

occurs when part of the skull is misshapen, causing pressure on the brain that forces it downward to the spine. Within five days of diagnosis, Anderson was admitted for surgery at El Paso Children’s Hospital with pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. David F. Jimenez.

WIthin five days of diagnosis, Anderson was admitted for surgery at El Paso Children’s Hospital with pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. David F. Jimenez.

The procedure was a total success.

Two weeks after the procedure, for example, Anderson was able to ride a scooter for the first time and cross a balance beam at the park. He grew stronger and put on muscle, too, as he was able to eat without regurgitating -- and asked for second helpings!

Children’s Miracle Network hospitals serve the following:

• 16,200 children with trauma

• 935 children with diabetes

• 2,128 children with cancer

• 2,329 children who need surgery

• 925 babies in NICU

These fundraising campaigns align with the mission to treat local patients at the local level. “We don’t want to have to send kids like Anderson, or any other patient, outside of El Paso to get treatment,” says Velazquez. “We want to keep them here at home at El Paso Children’s Hospital.”

“That dollar goes a long way,” Velazquez explains. “That dollar helps us bring in the equipment that we need for the hospital.”

Dr. Jimenez used neurology-specific equipment to perform the procedure that was funded by donations to the Children’s Miracle Network. The tools are designed to be minimally invasive for pediatric patients and have been shown to produce better patient outcomes and reduce the length of hospital stays.

The Children’s Miracle Network works to raise funds and awareness to support pediatric patients like Anderson. Each day,

The fundraising campaigns align with the mission to treat local patients at the local level.

“We don’t want to have to send kids like Anderson, or any other patient, outside of El Paso to get treatment,” says Velazquez. “We want to keep them here at home. We want our community to be proud of El Paso Children’s Hospital. We want them to be proud they were able to give that dollar back to the community.”

| By: TCM STAFF photos courtesy of: CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK |
April 2023 99

Filmmaker Talks Success of Border Series

100 April 2023

The border is front-and-center of American culture and politics as immigration continues to inspire local artists and storytellers to share our unique stories. Alfonso Loya is a filmmaker and multi-instrumentalist musician who was born in Juarez then moved to New Mexico when he was 12 years old. Loya founded In Cadence Films, a production company, in 2017 with film partner Tony Marquez.

In 2022, In Cadence Films produced “Entre Fronteras,” a drama series that focuses on the human impact of immigration and life on the border for streaming platform Canela TV, a free streaming service that offers content in English and Spanish. In Cadence Films won the Grand Jury Award for “Entre Fronteras”at the 2022 New York International Film Awards for Best Web Series.

“Entre Fronteras” was written by Loya, Marquez, and Julian Nunez after their film “De La Luz” caught the eye of Canela Media, who asked the filmmakers to produce a threepart series based on the film. The series focuses on a group of immigrants from South and their journey to enter the United States. The pilot episode was shot in seven days and came to life entirely through the expertise of local filmmakers, locations, and actors.

The City Magazine sat down with Loya to talk about what it’s like to be in the spotlight and on the border.

The City Magazine

Tell me about yourself and the series you created.

Alfonso Loya

I studied film in Las Cruces at NMSU and graduated in 2016. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot of local productions here in El Paso: short films, music videos, commercials, and work on bigger films. Then, the opportunity came to do this series about immigration for a streaming platform. It all started because we have a short film, very similar to the series on immigration that we submitted to a lot of film festivals. The film actually won a few awards, but it also won a competition that the streaming platform was doing. The streaming platform wanted us to do a series based on the film, so we did. We started last summer, and premiered in October. We’re writing episodes two and three right now.


Why is it important to tell border stories?


I grew up here and believe we are the ones who should be telling the story, as opposed 101
There ’ s a new Mexican in town morra mÍa morra mÍa_elpaso R MARGARITAS BEST M E XICAN FOOD

to somebody else coming from out of town and trying to portray the border. We know what it is. We can put it on screen, too. Our series was made completely from local filmmakers and local actors. Staying local made it more authentic.


How did you go about writing the story?



Well, it was about a couple different things. We actually came up with more storylines and reprised a couple from the film as well. You don’t really want to make too much about politics, but it’s very focused on immigration. We want to talk about the people you can relate to. We want to create real characters, real personalities, real struggle. We made a lot of dramatic stories based on real struggles, real problems.

I didn’t write it alone. I wrote it with my partner, Julian.


Why did you want to become a filmmaker?


It started with music, you know. I started recording myself playing music on our family’s camcorder, and as I grew older, the videos were better. Later, I graduated high school and I needed to choose what to do but I didn’t want to study music. What I was really, really interested in was filming and editing. I love stories. Drawing, telling stories, creating something from scratch. So when I got started, it just opened my eyes. It was a whole new world, and there’s no going back now.


Representation in film is so important. The first time I ever felt represented in the film

Where Art MeetsMedicine

April 2023
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was when I saw the “Selena” movie with Jennifer Lopez. There was a quick scene at the beginning in El Paso, which was something I had never seen before, the place I lived on screen. How important is it to you to make sure that there is representation of the community?


I’ve seen a lot of movies where they don’t even acknowledge the region or they tell the audience it’s somewhere else. We want to get the real thing because it comes from a real place and the more real it is, the more people believe it. When we started to shoot for the series, we actually shot in Juarez and that was very cool for me. I’ve seen hundreds of films where they portrayed the border that we’re living in and it’s nothing like a real thing.

April 2023
Filmmaker Talks Success of Border Series


A Framework for

104 April 2023
| By: TCM STAFF photos courtesy of: SHE BUILDS |

The homes and hearts of women throughout El Paso are being given a helping hand by ladies like them. “She Builds” is part of Americorps’ “Rebuilding Together” initiative that is a womenled and women-focused collaboration that empowers women to maintain safe homes, while also making a difference in the community. Programming as part of She Builds includes participation in home and community renovation projects, home repair training, and leadership training where women learn basic plumbing and carpentry skills, the do’s and don’ts of electrical safety, and other hands-on training during repair projects.

“There is a need for women to learn other skills for everyday life,” says Isabel Salcido, City Representative for District 5, who has participated in the workshops. “It’s very empowering doing handy work; this will definitely help women in their homes and in the community.”

She Builds is working to address the needs of homes that need help, many of which are headed by women.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, more than one in eight women and one in six children in the United States live in poverty. Moreover, women-headed households with children are in greater need of home repairs than other household types.

The workshops and projects hosted by She Builds create a framework for fabulous that expand and enhance myriad skills that include:

• Improved ability to perform home repair tasks

• Improved sense of self-worth

• Deeper connection to community and a network of supportive local women

• Increased partnerships between women-owned and women-led businesses and organizations that support fellow women in need

She Builds El Paso has hosted home repair workshops for women community leaders in El Paso that encourage other local women to participate.

“I would definitely recommend these workshops,” says Cindy Conroy, Director of Community Outreach at WestStar Bank. “It is a great to know basic home repair that could cost a lot of money just to have somebody come over and do some really easy stuff. It feels good to know that you can do it yourself and that you can maintain your home.” 105 April 2023
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The Sanctum of Funk & Fun

108 April 2023

Throughout history, artists, writers, and travelers have sought sanctity by retreating to a sanctuary. From quiet places to meditate and work, to spaces well equipped with the acoustics to play and enjoy music, the desire to inspire lingers. A local sanctuary called The Sanctum exists in the Virginia Heights neighborhood of Central El Paso that is used as an Airbnb, event space, and more to those who seek a transcendent experience.

“I started the idea of a sanctum probably 10 years ago, when I was in San Francisco,” says Justin Kepple, owner of The Sanctum, who also accomplished most of the

handiwork. “I always had intended to come back to El Paso.”

The Sanctum is located on the ground level of a two-story home built in 1910 that was once the site of women’s suffrage movement in El Paso, and later housed U.S. Army war veterans.

The home’s rich history and good bones -- wood floors, high ceilings, lots of natural light -- lent itself to an inspiring future after some TLC.

“We knew it was going to take a lot of work and so we got to it,” says Kepple, whose daughter, Autumn, and girlfriend, Nancy,

assisted in the renovations, decorations, and vision for The Sanctum. “I’m not an extraordinarily handy person,” he continues. “But, I’m a good problem solver. We put in the time, we put in the energy -- learning how to pace yourself is important.”

The time and energy put into The Sanctum are palpable.

After an ascent of about a dozen steps, it’s easy to feel immediately uplifted and safe within the museum-esque walls, cozy furniture, vinyl collection, and local art.

“We have art from locals Christin Apodaca and Charlie Morales, as well as photos

April 2023

on display from local photographers, Rebecca Moreno and Michelle Romero,” says Kepple. “We’re always looking to add to the collection.”

Much of the furniture and decor were sourced from local thrift shops, while other fixtures were discovered by chance.

“These speakers I found on someone’s driveway were thrown out. They were there with the trashcan and I was like, ‘No way,” says Kepple.

The speakers are now housed inside The Sanctum’s music room, the lungs between the heart of the space -- the record player.

The Sanctum’s Instagram describes it as a contemporary transcendent space, which is attracting guests and creatives from near and far.

April 2023

“The idea behind it has always been about experience,” Kepple explains. “What does someone experience when they walk in?”

Recently, The Sanctum has been inhabited by different groups of artists that include musicians, photographers, and film production crews.

“It’s not the same bands coming, or the same photographers, and it’s definitely not the same film crews but there’s a sense of a gravitational pull for creatives. It’s a collective of people coming together, understanding what the space is and what we want it to be,” says Kepple. “It continues to be very validating for us when we have people reach out to achieve their own creative vision.”

Kepple is a psychologist who is part of a generation of El Pasoans who left the Sun City for graduate and postgraduate

education with a plan to return home and give back to the community.

“I knew I wanted to come back to El Paso. It was a pretty easy decision for me being that my daughter is still here -- very easy decision. For a long time what happened was you grow up and then you move away, the brain drain. “But it’s nice to see that people are coming back and taking pride in this city.”

The growth of the community is visible from The Sanctum’s front patio, with clear views of the continued construction downtown and on Texas, the development of new restaurants and nearby businesses, and renovations being done to other nearby homes.

“El Paso really is a gem in the desert,” says Kepple. “It’s been nice that The Sanctum has been a place for people to settle down and relax, and discover a peaceful little piece of El Paso.”

111 April 2023
The Sanctum of Funk & Fun Bring the home of your dreams to life. Start planning your financial goals with the support of Ethos Financial! INAAM H. ZIYADEH Office: (915) 759-4072 Fax: (915) 759-4092 Email: 221 N Kansas Street, Ste.1201 El Paso, TX 79901 President & CEO Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Company (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Company®, and the companies available through the Preferred Product Network, Inc. Securities and advisory products offered through Principal Securities, Inc., Member SIPC. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392. Inaam Ziyadeh, Principal National and Principal Life Financial Representative, Principal Securities Registered Representative, Financial Advisor. Ethos Financial is not an affiliate of any company of the Principal Financial Group®. 2802568-032023 CA. Ins # 0L98851
MAYOR OSCAR LEESER Mayor, City of El Paso CINDY STOUT CEO, El Paso Children’s Hospital

Tote-ally C OL


Gen Z Staple

April 2023
Progress Report Student Journalism

They’re everywhere, and I mean everywhere. From coffee shops to grocery stores, teens with claw clips and Crocs aren’t missing a chance to make a statement, even if it’s on a canvas tote bag.

Totes are nothing new. For years, humans have been using them to lug items and stash away groceries. While it is blurry when these totes became a staple piece, it is widely argued that it was the L.L Bean cotton tote in the ‘60s that proved a simple “ice bag” could be used to do a variety of household chores and shop in the city. In the ‘90s, totes started popping up in pop culture. Seen on celebrities like Princess Diana and it-girl Jennifer Aniston, tote bags became the epitome of casual fashion. Still, the canvas totes we know today stayed out of the picture, it wasn’t until The New Yorker started giving free canvas totes with their subscription in 2014 that they became a status symbol, especially for young people.

Tote bags’ popularity is largely owed to their apparent sustainability, practicality, and of course, ability to seamlessly convey a message.

To Gen Z, they aren’t just fashion statements; they humanize the wearer. Instead of “Hey, that’s a person,” people think, “Hey, that’s a person who has a really cool tote.” They serve the same purpose as window displays: you can get a glimpse into someone’s personality without having to actually approach them.

Because of the way canvas bags are designed, consumers associate tote bags with an aesthetic.

“Tote bags fit a specific aesthetic for our generation,” says Ari Leeah, a 17-year-old. “Following a minimalistic sense of fashion, with, you know, earth tones, plants, tea and coffee, tote bags,” which makes their wearability more than a statement, but a lifestyle.

Olive Wagler, a high school junior, mentions how the bag is functional for her everyday needs.

“I find myself wearing my tote bag even when I’m just carrying around my phone, wallet, and lipstick,” says Wagler.

Wagler owns two store-bought tote bags but also enjoys making totes for her friends.

“I like to knit and crochet a lot, and tote bags are one of the things I’ve made the most. So far, I’ve made ten.” Their favorite is one they made with cotton yarn. “It’s checkered red and pink, and it’s very sturdy and useful for heavier objects, which I love.”

Another Gen Zer, Sara Antowan, attests to how practical they are.

“Tote bags have become a statement piece for Gen Z because of their practicality. They are super cute, add to an outfit, and on top of that, they are very handy for carrying many things instead of only a few things in a small purse.”


They are also inclusive, as totes aren’t preestablished gender accessories like purses and wallets.

“It has allowed people of all genders to use a bag without feeling that they will be judged, which I think many parts of Gen Z can appreciate,” Antowan says.

Some even use tote bags to walk the line between gender and make their appearance more androgynous. “If I am wearing something more feminine, I tend to gravitate towards tote bags because it makes the fit more androgynous,” says Wagler, “ I enjoy the counterbalance between the two.” It also helps to dress down an outfit. “If I am wearing something fancy, I’ll go for a purse, but I love the laid-backness of a tote bag.”

It seems that everyone and their mother is using them – literally. Wagler’s most used

tote bag, a tye-dye print number, was actually their mom’s. “Me and my mom share a lot of the same style, and I just started stealing it from her. I just liked the convenience of being able to carry everything.”

Leah explains how it is both an artistic outlet for their mother and a practical carry-on.

“My mom has been a printmaker for years, and when I was little, tote bags were one of the articles she would use to test prints on. She’s a dance teacher, and so they’ve always been used in our house; in her case, to lug around dance shoes, tape, and changes of clothes.”

There is also the narrative of totes being ecofriendly, which is why younger generations are drawn to them. “I think that people, just thinking that they are making an effort to help the environment, makes them feel

April 2023
Tote-ally COOL

more secure or better about themselves. Wearing a tote bag is a symbol of that for young people,” Leah says.

Companies like EcoRight, a sustainable accessory brand, note the rise in sales of the item.

“Most of our target audience has been Gen Zs; our consumers see tote bags as

a personal style statement and a chance to do good to our planet. It’s a win-win all around,” says Udit Sood, a spokesperson for EcoRight explaining how environmental awareness is one of the biggest reasons why the generation is obsessed with the bag. “Believe it or not, they are more aware of environmental issues and ready to take steps toward making things right than any other,” he adds. 117 April 2023
Tote-ally COOL Enjoy. Every. Moment. Rent our 360 degree video booth platform for your next event Book Your Reservation today (915) 539-7545 @EpicEventsELP #enjoyeverymoment

March Launch Party

Guests, lawyers, and animal lovers gathered at The Great American Steakhouse on Airway to celebrate the release of our March issue, celebrating animal rescue and conservation that also featured El Paso’s leading attorneys.

| Photos by: MARY CHAVEZ |

The Best of the City 2022

brought a black and white soiree to Sunland Park Mall that celebrated winners, nominees, and the city of El Paso.

| Photos by: JOHN HORTA and GIBEL AMADOR |

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS FOR THE Best of the City 2022 127 April 2023
INDEX A-1 Kitchens by Sierra Pg. 14 Abraham J. Herndon ..................................................................... Pg. 67 Aki Sushi Pg. 1 Alfredo H. Arrellano ....................................................................... Pg. 36 Ana Square Microblading and Permanent Makeup Pg. 23 A New Beginning Estate Sales and Appraisals .......... Pgs. 42-45 Art Masters of El Paso Pgs. 42-45 Beatriz Alderete Pg. 69 Ben Bridge Jeweler Pg. 77 Bomanite Artistic Concrete and Pools Pg. 50 Borderland Bail Bonds Pg. 17 Casa Buena Vista Homes Pgs. 6-7 Cassandra Delgado Pg. 76 Eco Living Home Improvement Pg. 2-3 El Paso Center for Diabetes Pg. 32 El Paso Children’s Hospital Inside back cover El Paso Rhinos Hockey................................................................. Pg. 19 El Paso Zoo Society Pg. 94 Epic Events & Entertainment Pg. 117 Eric Smith ................................................................................. Pgs. 60-61 Ethos Financial Pg. 111 Grace Ayala Pg. 66 Great American Steakhouse Pg. 1 Hammer & Nails Grooming Pg. 81 Hardware Specialties and Glass Co. Pg. 51 Hotel Indigo Pg. 97 Hyundai of El Paso Pg. 103; Back cover Intraceuticals Pg. 107 Italian Kitchen West Pg. 39 JMT Properties Pg. 75 Joe Moreno ...................................................................................... Pg. 71 LEH Home Pg. 54 Laura Diaz ......................................................................................... Pg. 72 Lone Star Title Pg. 55 Michelle Medrano ................................................................. Pgs. 58-59 Morra Mia Pg. 101
APRIL Advertiser
128 April 2023
Advertiser INDEX Mountain Star Mortgage Pgs. 64-65 Myriam’s Faux Finish Studio Pgs. 52; 97 Nicholas Reyes Hair Salon Pg. 22 Pacifica Homes Pgs. 12-13 Persian Rug Gallery ....................................................................... Pg. 37 Poe Toyota Pg. 15 Progressive Pools ................................................................. Pgs. 48-49 Raul Ivan Ruiz Pg. 68 Ray Borrego......................................................................................Pg. 74 Rejuvene M.D. Pg. 102 Right Drive ...................................................................................... Pg. 106 Saratoga Homes Pg. 33 Southwest Plastic Surgery ................................................ Pgs. 10-11 Sparkle Events Pg. 39 Stewart Title ............................................................................ Pgs. 62-63 Stryker by Spectrum Pg. 82 Sue Woo Pg. 73 Sugar Skull Fashion Boutique.................................................... Pg. 96 Sushiito Pg. 116 The City Magazine Calendar ...................................................... Pg. 30 The City Magazine Ticketing......................................................Pg. 40 The Home Systems Heating and Cooling............................. Pg. 56 The Manor at Ten Eleven Pgs. 4-5 The Mix Salon and Spa ................................................................. Pg. 83 The Stateline Pg. 110 Tint World .......................................................................................... Pg. 27 Tropicana Homes Pg. 95 UA Local 412 Plumbers and Pipefitters ................................. Pg. 53 Victoria Olivia Pg. 70 Vida CBD Pg. 31 Walgreens Pgs. 8-9 West Texas Pain Institute Inside front cover; 93 Winton & Associates Pg. 46-47

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